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  • Giovanni Escalera

Unraveling the Health Equity Conversation: Disabilities at the Center

In a thought-provoking episode of the "Partners for Advancing Health Equity" podcast, co-produced by Tulane University and Sonidorama, Karen Bell dives into the heart of the matter by addressing the critical issue of the disability community's exclusion from the health equity dialogue. Colin Killick, an expert in the field, sheds light on the historical neglect and its implications, using powerful insights and examples. In this blog, we dissect the conversation, highlighting key points and the importance of discussions like these.

The Struggle for Inclusion

Colin Killick emphasizes the long-overdue conversation about health equity and how the disability community often finds itself on the sidelines. The root of this exclusion lies in the failure to recognize people with disabilities as a distinct community. Instead, they are often treated as a health outcome gone wrong.

The Impact of Structural Bias on Health Equity

Colin points out that health disparities in the disability community are a result of structural bias, bad policy design, and discrimination. It's commonly assumed that individuals with disabilities naturally have worse health outcomes, neglecting the distinctive history and culture of this community. This exclusion manifests through healthcare system inaccessibility and quality measures that don't account for the unique needs of this group.

The Power of Community in Health Equity

The conversation delves into the significance of identifying as a "disability community." While it may empower many and foster a sense of disability pride, it can also perpetuate stereotypes. However, Colin's own experience shows that discovering this community was transformative and provided a new perspective on normalcy and disability.

"People with disabilities can experience a sense of disability pride when they have access to the disability community.-Colin Killick"

Health Equity for People with Disabilities

The ultimate goal for health equity in the disability community is to allow individuals to define what successful healthcare outcomes mean to them. It goes beyond clinical standards and encompasses the broader social factors that impact the quality of life. It's about recognizing the interconnectedness of social determinants of health and health-determined socialization.

Intersectionality and Culture

Colin stresses the importance of intersectionality in advocacy and policymaking for people with disabilities. This means standing in solidarity with other marginalized groups and acknowledging the cultural aspects of disability. Celebrating the rich history and culture within the disability community can change mindsets and reduce the shame associated with disabilities.

"In a world where people with disabilities are forced to feel shame, celebrating our culture changes mindsets and challenges discrimination."

Addressing Multiple "Isms"

Colin highlights the deep-rooted links between ableism, racism, and sexism. Ableism, fundamentally the belief that some bodies are worth more than others, has historical connections to racist pseudoscience and misogyny. Recognizing these interconnections is vital for creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

The conversation between Karen Bell and Colin Killick unveils the importance of including the disability community in health equity discussions. It serves as a

reminder that achieving health equity means addressing multiple aspects of inequality and fostering an inclusive society. Podcasts like "Partners for Advancing Health Equity" play a crucial role in bringing these issues to light and sparking crucial conversations. It's a testament to the power of storytelling and the need to continue amplifying voices that are often unheard.

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